Seems like Korean carmaker Hyundai likes nothing more than chasing after its Japanese rivals Honda and Toyota, and to that effect have launched their latest assault on the Pilot and Highlander with the new Veracruz crossover utility vehicle. And they may be catching them.
The Veracruz presents an attractive design packed with features at a highly competitive price point. If you're a fan of the Nissan Murano, you should appreciate this Hyundai's styling. It's sleek and curvaceous like a sportscar, but taller and with more capabilities. Inside the interior features three rows of seating – increasingly considered a must for sport-ute and crossover buyers, especially with the so-called demise of the minivan. Interior fit and finish is light-years ahead of where the uninitiated would think a Korean family-hauler would be, packing perforated leather trim with contrasting stitching and brushed aluminum trim. It's packed with all the bells and whistles for convenience and safety, and Hyundai says it also features more cargo room than Mercedes' full-size GL. Pulling all those features around town is the same engine from the Azera sedan, an aluminum 3.8-liter DOHC CVVT 260-hp V6 driving all fours through a six-speed automatic with manual shifting.
Korean cars have been improving quickly, and while the styling is a love-it-or-hate-it affair, the Veracruz looks poised to take Hyundai yet another step in the right direction.
Check out our hi-rez gallery of live shots from the show floor and studio images from Hyundai by clickin' right here. Full press release is after the jump.
HYUNDAI DEBUTS NEW 2007 VERACRUZ CROSSOVER AT NORTH AMERICAN INTERNATIONAL AUTO SHOW
Veracruz Unites Space, Powerful Performance, Interior Elegance and Safety Satisfying the Most Demanding Customer
DETROIT, Mich., January 8, 2007 – The new Veracruz midsize crossover made its North American debut today at the 2007 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS). Just as the Hyundai Azera is altering perceptions about premium sedans, Veracruz breaks new ground in premium crossovers. Hyundai has once again made luxury and performance attainable in previously unthinkable ways: with standard Electronic Stability Control (ESC), upscale amenities and more cargo volume than the full-size Mercedes-Benz GL, Veracruz uniquely blends substance with style.
Veracruz takes on the Honda Pilot and Toyota Highlander and beats them in terms of powertrain performance and standard safety features while adding sophisticated design, high-quality craftsmanship and seating for seven adults.
"Veracruz is an exceptional vehicle at the right time for this developing segment," said Steve Wilhite, chief operating officer of Hyundai Motor America. "The vehicle's designers recognized that the needs and desires of traditional SUV buyers weren't being met and focused on meeting those needs in an elegant and ingenious way. The result is a spacious crossover that delivers both refined style and first-rate performance."
BOLD AND BEAUTIFUL
The Veracruz continues Hyundai's product expansion and global design evolution through the continued use of fluid and organic forms to create a refined, and luxurious exterior appearance.
"We are very proud of Veracruz and feel this design will not only reinforce our design direction as a company, but also greatly enhance our escalating brand image on a global basis," said Joel Piaskowski, chief designer at the Hyundai Design Center in Irvine, Calif. "Fluid lines combined with the integrated headlights and taillights envelop Veracruz to create a unified aesthetic."
Up front, the sculpted bumper creates the appearance of additional height. Three-tiered headlights complement the design. The grille combines a flat-lined upper chrome bezel and a curved lower bezel which houses the Hyundai flying-H logo. Distinctive character lines and a fast profile enhance the stylish yet functional imagery. The vehicle's seductive beltline ascends from the wraparound headlights and follows the tapering greenhouse to include the prominent taillights. Chrome trim is strategically applied to highlight some of its design features while giving Veracruz an elegant, luxurious presence. The prominent wheel arches house 17- or 18-inch wheels and tires.
Smooth and solid in its stance, the Veracruz even impresses as it departs. The integrated rear fascia has a sculpted section that blends seamlessly into the sides of the taillights. The taillights decisively angle towards the character line highlighting the rounded back glass. Dual chrome exhaust tips, a Hyundai design trademark, allow Veracruz's 3.8-liter V6 engine to breathe freely. A rear spoiler enhances the sporty profile.
Inside, passengers are coddled in a rich, sophisticated environment that was inspired by boutique hotels. The result is an interior that could be found in the finest luxury sedans thanks to Hyundai's intelligent ergonomic engineering, intuitive design, and superior craftsmanship. Hyundai has combined space with elegance including conveniences that exceed expectations. For example, although the Veracruz is 9.7 inches shorter than the Mercedes Benz GL, it has more cargo volume.
Every major component of Veracruz has been designed to reduce cabin noise below the whisper-quiet Lexus RX350. To isolate outside noise, Hyundai applies acoustic dampening sheets to the doors and unibody, a steel plate beneath the engine and four layers of carpet padding. Engine noise is reduced through electronically controlled engine mounts, a multi-curvature dash, custom hood insulation and a pillow tripod joint which lessens vibrations from the driveshaft at idle.
Seating for seven adults is made possible thanks to the standard Hyundai Hideaway™ third-row seat. Access to the third row is just a step away with the flip of a lever to slide the second row forward. Available dual-zone climate controls for driver and front-seat passenger further enhance the Veracruz's luxury credentials. Second- and third-row passengers will enjoy a new level of comfort, thanks to B pillar-mounted adjustable vents, rear HVAC controls and roof-mounted vents.
Brushed metal accents and blue backlighting for all interior gauges, switches and buttons highlight the modern, integrated interior design. Even the front cupholders are ringed with blue light to aid nighttime driving, while a soft blue spotlight in the overhead console provides subdued task lighting. Hyundai's focused attention to detail can be seen throughout the interior – console bins and the glovebox are lined with soft flocking material. Powerpoint caps, seatbelt buckles and cupholder inserts are color-keyed for design harmony. Soft-touch, high-quality materials, low-gloss surfaces and zero-tolerance net-fits are used throughout the interior.
An AM/FM/XM/CD/MP3 audio system that includes an internal amplifier and six speakers comes standard in the Veracruz GLS and SE. The 315-watt Infinity® AM/FM/XM/CD-changer/MP3 audio system with subwoofer and external amplifier is standard on the Limited trim and optional in the SE. Audiophiles with even more demanding tastes will be impressed by the available Infinity AM/FM/XM/CD-changer audio system that includes a 605-watt external amplifer, 10 speakers and Logic 7® surround sound available on the SE and Limited trim levels.
Other thoughtful convenience features include a proximity key, rain-sensing wipers, auto dimming exterior mirrors, mirror-mounted approach lights, adjustable pedals, memory settings for the power mirrors, driver seat and steering wheel, backup warning system, power liftgate, and a rear-seat entertainment system that includes a DVD player and eight-inch overhead screen.
On the street, the new Veracruz has thrilling performance courtesy of the same 3.8-liter DOHC V6 engine that powers the Azera. It delivers an estimated 260 horsepower and 257 lb-ft. of torque. To maximize the power spread, the engine utilizes Continuously Variable Valve Timing (CVVT) on the intake valves and a Variable Intake System which helps cylinders breathe efficiently at both low and high RPM. The engine uses an aluminum block and cylinder heads for light weight and thermal efficiency, and features timing chains with no scheduled maintenance.
To reduce vibration, the engine rides on newly developed semi-active engine mounts, which consist of three passive mounts integrated with a controllable element, rpm sensor and solenoid valve. The mounts harness engine vacuum to create a dynamic response which offsets engine vibrations. In fact, Veracruz has less idling vibration and noise than the Lexus RX350.
To help put the power to use, the engine is mated to an Aisin six-speed gearbox with SHIFTRONIC® manual control. The transmission offers silky smooth shifts and a wide spread of ratios that ideally suit the engine's capabilities. Drivers can access the SHIFTRONIC® feature by moving the gear selector into a separate gate. Pushing the selector forward or pulling it rearward will shift the transmission up or down sequentially, adding to driver control. A clear LCD readout on the instrument panel shows the gear that's in use. The transmission uses an integrated transmission control unit and low noise gears which reduce friction.
All of this powertrain technology is put to efficient use in the Veracruz, with an EPA highway fuel economy estimate of 25 miles per gallon, exceeding the smaller, less powerful Honda Pilot. Veracruz also delivers clean air, with an anticipated Ultra-Low Emissions Vehicle (ULEV) classification.
Hyundai engineers benchmarked the best crossovers in the world before designing Veracruz's unibody and four-wheel independent suspension system. The rigid chassis and suspension geometry were specifically designed to deliver a supple, confident ride and help isolate the passenger cabin from imperfection in the road. The underpinnings are governed by a MacPherson strut front suspension and multi-link rear suspension system.
Upfront, reverse L-shaped lower control arms and high caster angles provide superior steering feel and excellent straight-line stability. Large subframe bushings improve the ride and isolate unwanted noise, vibration and harshness. All four wheels are controlled by coil springs, fade-resistant, gas-charged dampers and front and rear stabilizer bars. The Veracruz GLS uses 17-inch, five split-spoke aluminum wheels and 245/65R17 tires, while the SE and Limited trims ride on 18-inch, five-spoke aluminum wheels and 245/60R18 tires. Add in rack-and-pinion power steering, with a tighter minimum turning radius than the shorter Lexus RX350 and Nissan Murano, and the end result is a vehicle with precise steering and handling, and a well-controlled yet comfortable ride.
ELECTRONIC ALL-WHEEL DRIVE
Hyundai has added an Intelligent Torque Controlled Coupling All-Wheel Drive (AWD) system to propel Veracruz through the elements. Using wheel speed sensors to monitor the road and the driver, this electronic system can sense when and where more torque is required and route it there automatically. Power is transmitted to the rear wheels through a multi-plate clutch without any extra effort from the driver. An AWD lock mode can be engaged with the touch of a button providing a 50:50 torque ratio when needed.
SOPHISTICATED SAFETY SYSTEMS
"The 2007 Veracruz embraces both active and passive safety with a host of leading-edge technologies," said John Krafcik, vice president of Strategic Planning and Product Development, Hyundai Motor America. "Electronic Stability Control, six airbags including side curtain airbags protecting all three rows, and active front head restraints are found standard in Veracruz and are some of the industry's most effective technologies."
Veracruz's advanced engineering provides a high level of precision during all aspects of driving, and is anchored by standard Electronic Stability Control (ESC), the industry's most important new safety technology. By continually analyzing road speed, steering input, throttle position, lateral yaw rate and other factors, an onboard microprocessor determines if the vehicle is starting to understeer or oversteer, and automatically engages one or more brakes. The system also reduces engine output to help the driver maintain the intended path.
In addition, Veracruz adds large four-wheel disc brakes with a 10-inch tandem brake booster and Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) with Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD) for impressive stopping distance for a vehicle of its size. Brake Assist maximizes braking force when an emergency stop is detected.
Veracruz's passive safety features are equally impressive, beginning with six total airbags, including advanced dual front airbags, front seat-mounted side-impact airbags and roof-mounted side curtain airbags for all three rows of seating. In addition, active front head restraints help prevent whiplash. All seating positions feature three-point seatbelts, while the second and third row also have adjustable head restraints. Security is further provided through the standard alarm system and available engine immobilizer.
To absorb impacts to the passenger cabin, Hyundai engineers optimize crumple zones and reinforce the architecture's rails, side sill frame, floor cross-members and center pillars. These reinforcements have been tested thoroughly in laboratory and computer simulations. Veracruz has been designed and tested to receive the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA) top five-star crash test rating for front and side impacts.
Convenient Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children (LATCH) points allow child seats to be secured in the second-row seats. Additional standard safety equipment includes a Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS), which alerts drivers if one or more tires are under inflated. An illuminated readout on the dash lets drivers know the exact tire needing inflation so corrective action can be taken.
THE DIFFERENCE IS IN THE DETAILS
As with all Hyundai vehicles, Hyundai put a great deal of thought and attention to detail into every aspect of Veracruz. One touch opens and closes the available power tailgate, and the proximity key means no more fishing for keys with groceries in hand. Puddle lamps save your best pair of shoes. An integrated memory system returns the driver's seat to a default setting. Lining the rear bumper with rear distance warning sensors makes parallel parking a snap. Aerodynamic wiper blades improve visibility, and two-way nozzles, each with four streams of fluid, provide for remarkably clean windshields.
The Hyundai Veracruz comes in three distinct trim levels: The well-equipped GLS, sporty SE and premium Limited.
Veracruz GLS comes well-equipped with a 3.8-liter V6 engine, six-speed automatic transmission, ESC, ABS, rear spoiler, 17-inch alloy wheels and seating for seven. Also standard is an AM/FM/XM/CD/MP3 audio system (including three months of complementary XM service), air conditioning with cabin filter, steering wheel audio/cruise controls, heated power side mirrors with puddle lights and side turn signal repeaters, front solar glass and rear privacy glass, remote keyless entry, and power windows and door locks. Inside are active front head restraints, dual front airbags, front seat side-impact airbags plus side-curtain airbags. Other useful features include a tire pressure monitoring system, a trip computer and a tilt and telescoping steering wheel. The Hyundai Hideaway third-row seat folds flat into the floor and is split 50/50, and the third row includes its own roof-mounted vents. The optional Premium Package adds a power tilt/slide glass sunroof, power driver seat, heated front seats, leather wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, and backup warning system.
VERACRUZ SE – A SPORTIER FLAVOR OF VERACRUZ
The SE features the GLS equipment plus standard 18-inch alloy wheels, power driver seat, electrochromic auto-dimming rearview mirror with compass and HomeLink®, and front fog lights. A streamlined roof rack, center storage console with Cool Box functionality, auto-dimming exterior mirrors and automatic headlights are also standard equipment. An optional Premium & Leather Package adds a power tilt/slide glass sunroof, leather seating surfaces, heated front seats and a 315-watt Infinity™ audio system with CD changer and backup warning system. The available Entertainment Package (requires Premium and Leather Package) features a rear-seat entertainment system with an eight-inch LCD monitor, 605-watt Infinity AM/FM/XM/CD-changer/MP3 audio system with Logic 7 surround sound, 115-volt power outlet and conversation mirror.
VERACRUZ LIMITED – PREMIUM FEATURES, OUTSTANDING VALUE
Veracruz Limited comes standard with all of the equipment found standard on the SE and adds leather seating surfaces, heated front seats, power front passenger seat, automatic temperature control, a 315-watt Infinity™ audio system with CD changer, power tilt & slide glass sunroof, power tailgate, chrome door handles, brushed metal door sill scuff plates, conversation mirror, windshield wiper deicer and backup warning system. For even greater luxury, the available Ultimate Package includes power-adjustable pedals, integrated memory system, power tilt and telescoping steering wheel, blue backlit sill scuff plates, 605-watt Infinity AM/FM/XM/CD-changer/MP3 audio system with Logic 7 surround sound, a rear-seat DVD entertainment system with an eight-inch LCD monitor, 115-volt power outlet, proximity key and rain sensing wipers.
HYUNDAI MOTOR AMERICA
Hyundai Motor America, headquartered in Fountain Valley, Calif., is a subsidiary of Hyundai Motor Co. of Korea. Hyundai vehicles are distributed throughout the United States by Hyundai Motor America and are sold and serviced through 740 dealerships nationwide.